I watched the 2004 documentary, Cary Grant: A Class Apart on TCM recently and I've been thinking about it off and on ever since. It's not so much that it was a brilliant piece of filmmaking. It's a pretty standard movie star biography. What made the deeper impression was Cary Grant, the man, as portrayed by his own words, the facts of his life, film clips, and affect he and his actions had on others.
He was a complex personality. He was a womaniser, or at least, a man who loved many, many women. But he was Cary Grant—how could he not be? Two of his former wives appear in the documentary, Betsy Drake, to whom he was married for thirteen years, and Barbara Harris, who was his wife from 1981 until his death five years later. They both dismiss the ever-present gossip that Grant may have been bisexual, Drake most entertainingly, "Why would I believe that Cary was homosexual when we were busy fucking?" She is definitely a woman scorned, or at least, severely bruised still by her marriage, which she describes all-too vividly as a dictatorship, where she lost her identity and Cary was the only star. She desperately wanted children, but Grant either ignored her desires or refused to participate. Th viewer must take all her hurt feelings into account when she adds, "Maybe he was bisexual. He lived 43 years before he met me. I don't know what he did."
Harris completely dismisses the rumors which have perpetuated all these years based primarily on hearsay and publicity photo shoots he did with longtime friend and roommate Randolph Scott. Certainly no homosexual couple, in the 1930s, in a town like Hollywood, which was notorious for cooking up false romances to cover up its gay stars' sex lives (Monty Clift, Rock Hudson), would promote and publish such photos. It's a case of wishful thinking and different times meaning different things. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other if Cary had a boyfriend, but it seems strange how fervent the desire is to attach gay rumors to celebrities like Grant. Why is it so important to some people to know which star is sleeping with which star?
Noticeably absent from the documentary is Dyan Cannon, who parted most acrimoniously from Grant two years after their marriage, but also gave him his only child, daughter Jennifer Grant, whom he absolutely doted on, "If I had known then what I know now, if I had not been so utterly stupid, I would have had a hundred children and I would have built a ranch to keep them on." Grant finally becoming a father and crowing about it must have been hard for Betsy Drake to take.